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RIP Van Cliburn

RIP Van Cliburn

Van Cliburn died today at age 78.

The name lives on with the piano competition named after him.

RIP, tall Texan:

Renowned American classical pianist Van Cliburn died Wednesday morning at the age of 78 after a battle with bone cancer, publicist and longtime friend Mary Lou Falcone told The Associated Press.

Falcone announced in late August 2012 that Cliburn had been diagnosed with advanced cancer and was being cared for at his home in Fort Worth.

Cliburn’s triumph at a Moscow competition in 1958 helped thaw the Cold War and launched a spectacular international career.

Cliburn skyrocketed to fame after winning the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow at age 23.

He returned to a New York ticker tape parade, a first for a classical musician.

He performed for every president since Harry Truman, and for years devoted his time to the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Gov. Rick Perry issued a statement Wednesday in which he said he and his wife Anita “were blessed to call Van Cliburn a close friend.”


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Watched both videos and teared up at each, thinking about the world we’ve pissed on.

    My reaction was similar.

    Of course I’d rather be alive today than in 1958, but I wonder if America has discarded something essential along the path from then to now: something without which that past progress would not have happened, something without which comparable progress will not continue.

    Inundated as we are by grievance, it bears recalling that history judges people, institutions, and nations by their extremes, by their best and by their worst.

    May we recover what Van Cliburn exemplified, the best of what we stand for: not just for the country’s sake but for the whole world’s.

I’m tempted to snidely say, “He didn’t build that!” But I will forgo politics (This once?!?) and simply say that musicians of his caliber are a rare treasure that transcends not only political discord, but remind of that there is indeed beauty and peace to be found in one’s pursuits of excellence.

RIP Van Cliburn, the angels’ choir, I am sure, will gladly sing to your accompanyment.

From the first time I listened to his music, as a teenager in the ’70s, through homeschooling our children, he has been one of my favorites, RIP.

Who is our next Van Cliburn?

P. Diddy?, jay-Z? Pink? Gaga?


9thDistrictNeighbor | February 27, 2013 at 8:26 pm

He was blessed with incredible talent, a flair for performing, and enormous hands. Rest in peace.

I was blessed to have met VanCliburn in person back in the late ’80s. He was a featured guest at a company function at the time. Gracious, socially adept and current with the events of the time as I recall. Our culture is lessened for the loss of his presence.

    snopercod in reply to drdog09. | February 28, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    I’m jealous. Several years ago I saw Olga Kern (in the first video) perform in our little town. I was seated in the first row – so close to her that I could smell her perfume. It was magical.

It’s impossible not to compare the musical tastes of Presidents Reagan and Bush with those of the current occupant of the White House.

[…] plentious platters of pulled-procinus-perfection. Pass the sauce, Saavik. – Famed American pianist Van Cliburn died Wednesday. – The “Driving Miss Daisy” house is for sale (warning video starts when page […]